Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose

Meat Loaf

Virgin, 2006

http://meatloaf.net

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/08/2006

This year, Oct 31st meant something a little different to me.

When words first reached my ears of Meat Loaf entering into the studio to record Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, excitement immediately welled up inside me.

Of course, one couldn’t feel but a little apprehensive about the announcement. A Bat album is something unique in the annals of rock, since few other records sound like the previous two. Also, around May there was a great deal of nail biting as Jim Steinman, the other half of the Bat partnership, sued Meat Loaf over TMIL. The lawsuit was settled out of court, but it was still a bit worrisome to think about a third album without the person who helped guide the first two.

Thank God that my worries have been somewhat assuaged. Monster is not even close to the original, but it’s better than Back Into Hellmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , the second in the sequence.

Much has been made of the Jim Steinman material on TMIL. None of the songs were written specifically for the album, with some (“Bad For Good”) having been crafted way back in the early '80s. Big deal. These songs fit perfectly within the context and complement the non-Steinman songs as well.

Credit must be given to wonder-producer Desmond Child for pulling off this gargantuan task. TMIL is big, loud, heavy, everything a Bat album should be. In fact, TMIL “rocks” harder than its two predecessors due in part to Child’s production. The bone-crunching, almost nu-metal guitars on songs like the title track and “In The Land Of The Pigs, The Butcher Is King” are something entirely new for this trilogy.

So while this makes certain aspects of TMIL more accessible to today’s audience, it does keep it from reaching a certain level of exclusivity. Tracks like “Cry Over Me” or “ If God Could Talk,” while of a relative high quality, don’t sound necessarily like a Meat Loaf song. TMIL is what Evanescence and bands of their ilk attempt to sound like.

The key difference is, of course, Mr. Loaf. For whatever shortcomings TMIL may have, none of them occur on the singer's part. His presence and raw emotion alone make the tunes work, which is good because they would have failed if nearly any other artist had attempted to sing them. And when everything comes together, the disc is just as good as its predecessors, especially on “Bad For Good” or “Alive,” which capture the grand pomposity and epic-ness we remember.

To my surprise, the most stunning moment on the entire disc come with “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” which was made famous by Celine Dion, though according to Meat Loaf it was written with him in mind. On TMIL, he gets a chance to remedy that situation, presenting the song in a duet form with Marion Raven. What results is a gut-wrenchingly powerful performance from both players that is easily one of the best songs of the year.

Yes, TMIL is a tad on the long side. There are definitely one or two songs that could have been cut and not missed. The point is, Bat Out of Hell III is more than a worthy successor to one of rock’s greatest series. Welcome back, Meat Loaf.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Virgin, and is used for informational purposes only.